New Zealand Deports Alleged 9/11 Suspect
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) _ A Yemeni who U.S. officials said once lived and trained with a terrorist pilot in the Sept. 11 attacks was deported from New Zealand, the government said Saturday.
Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali was detained May 29 in the city of Palmerston North, where he was attending flight school, Immigration Minister David Cunliffe said in a statement.
He said Rayed Abdullah was deported to Saudi Arabia the following day because his presence he posed a security threat, but he declined to give details.
``What I will say is that we don’t have any evidence of a specific terrorist threat by the gentleman,″ Cunliffe told National Radio.
The U.S. congressional investigation into the U.S. terror attacks said Rayed Abdullah had lived and trained with Saudi Arabian Hani Hanjour, who piloted the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11.
``He was directly associated with persons responsible for the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001,″ Cunliffe said.
``He was building up his flying hours, flying with an instructor. He’d previously trained as a pilot in the United States,″ Cunliffe said.
Rayed Abdullah had used ``a variation of his name in applying for entry to New Zealand″ and his real identity had only become known after he arrived in the country, Cunliffe said.
The Sept. 11 report says Rayed Abdullah entered the United States in late 1997 and obtained his private pilot’s license in December 1998 after training in Arizona. He then went to work as a computer programmer before resuming flight training in mid-2001, the Sept. 11 commission report says.
Citing FBI documents and interviews, the report said Rayed Abdullah met Hanjour through a mutual friend. They attended English language classes in Florida before moving to Arizona, where Hanjour also took flight training.
The FBI said it interviewed him after the Sept. 11 attacks and he claimed he had only limited contact with Hanjour.
The 2004 commission report said the FBI in Phoenix remains suspicious of Rayed Abdullah’s relationship with Hanjour.